Around 1100, a new type of richly decorated bibles was created in Italy, the so-called giant bibles. One of the few surviving specimens is the Gumbertus Bible. It is now kept in the University Library of Erlangen-Nürnberg where it counts among its largest and most sumptuously illuminated manuscripts. 39 miniatures, 16 full page images and 65 illuminated initials adorn its pages. The codex was written in Regensburg or Salzburg between 1175 and 1195.
The Gumbertus bible was one of the most precious treasures of the monastery library of Ansbach. In the middle of the 8th century, the Franconian nobleman Gumprecht (lat. Gumbertus), later canonized, founded a Benedictine monastery in Ansbach. Shortly after the millennium in 1000, it was turned into a canon monastery. In 1195, Gotebold, dean of St. Gumbertus, purchased the famous Gumbertus bible at the then enormous price of 12 talents. Citizens of Ansbach contributed considerable sums of money.
After the dissolution of the Monastery of St. Gumbertus, its library was transferred to the newly founded consistorial library in Ansbach. In 1733, it was included into the palace library of the Margraves of Ansbach. Shortly before Prussia, as a consequence of Napoleonic politics, was forced to cede the margraviate to Bavaria, King Frederick III. had his palace library transferred to Erlangen, which still belonged to Prussia. Together with many more treasures, the Gumbertus bible came into Erlangen University Library. Here, it has been preserved ever since as one of its most valuable treasures.
Up to now, the Gumbertus bible has been open to public viewing only very seldom, for example on the very special occasions of the 250th anniversary of Friedrich-Alexander-Universität in 1993 or the 1250th anniversary of the city of Ansbach in 1998. Internationally renowned scholars did intense research on this manuscript, with an exhibition in the Germanische Nationalmuseum (Nuremberg) as a final highlight.
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